PZI Teacher Archives
What is my piece in this patchwork inheritance? We are complicated—we don’t always know what qualities and histories inhabit us. We come into these lineages in mystery…maybe the lineages find us. Our koan lineage is one of moments of awakening, passed down. Excerpt from Ancestral Stories Retreat on October 30, 2022. 19 minutes.
When you are falling, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you are no longer constrained by your usual preoccupations. Awakening, too, is in the category of things you can’t do anything about. Sesshin’s Gate 3 is NO—or Mu—the famous dharmakaya koan that opens the body of reality. NO casts away all the consciousness you have had until now. Music with Jordan McConnell, closing words with Allison Atwill from the story of The Little Prince. Complete session recorded October 6, 2022.
When you are falling, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you are no longer constrained by your usual preoccupations. Awakening too, is in the category of things you can’t do anything about. The apparatus of certainty is circumvented and the universe is manifesting and unfolding through us. Excerpt from a sesshin dharma talk recorded October 6, 2022.
Kensho is a real thing—and you can’t pin it down. Awakening takes many and varied forms. Long to really understand reality, and have the joy of that. From a talk given during Summer Sesshin on June 17, 2022. 12 minutes.
David tells the story of Jiashan’s awakening after being sent by Daowu to find the Boat Monk. From a talk given in Summer Sesshin, June 16, 2022.
John Tarrant on a meeting past midnight with an old familiar face that you may or may not recognize right off. When there is no moon and you can’t find your way in the usual way, you are bound to have some unusual encounters. Stories, readings, comments, and music for meditation from Michael Wilding and Jordan McConnell. Complete Sunday Session VIDEO, recorded on June 12, 2022.
Awakening comes when you least expect it. Zen ancestor Koun Yamada returned from a retreat feeling deeply uncertain. Then dream life confirmed his awakening. Recorded June 12, 2022. 2-minute video.
Shopping for enlightenment. What is this? Things come at us and over us during an enlightenment experience—sometimes quite unusual. You are being carried by the Dao; it doesn’t care what else you’ve got going on. Music for meditation from Jordan McConnell and Micheal Wilding. Recorded May 15, 2022.
The Rhinoceros has a suggested shopping list for John. Among the items, like hay and jam, is enlightenment. Yes, you really can find all of these things at the market, right in the middle of your busy life. 15-minute excerpt from the Sunday Session: Enlightenment While Shopping for Jam, recorded May 15, 2022.
A Boxing Day story of awakening. Music from Michael Wilding & Jordan McConnell. As recorded December 26, 2021.
John revisits the awakenings and koans of the great teachers, among them Yunmen and Linji. The love, and attention, and faithfulness at the heart of the stories and teachings of the Chan ancestors is their gift to us. And everything we bring to it is an addition into this great heritage, and is part of the layering. Transcript from a video talk in Fall Sesshin 2019.
“Gratitude is something that I haven’t planned on—either to receive or to give—it takes me by surprise. It arrives out of nowhere. It’s the part of happiness that is beyond selfishness. My gratitude doesn’t have a lot of discrimination, and I like that.”
Day two of 2018 Winter Sesshin. John Tarrant introduces the great koan “No,” a gift from the ancestors. The gift is what happens when we hang out with the koan. “No” as the purest gate. When we step through, we find out we’re here! It’s not personal, you’re harmonizing with the universe. Transcript from a recording on January 17, 2018.
We are exhausted by our own agendas; in Chan and Zen the Bodhisattva of Great Mercy vows to stay until all beings are awakened. Her primary bond is with uncertainty. Your recipe for awakening is only for you.
In even the simplest life, pain and disappointment accumulate—and at some moment everyone longs to walk through a gate and leave the past behind, perhaps for an earlier time when the colors were bright and the heart carried no weight. The quest for a fresh start is so fundamental that it defines the shape of the stories we tell each other. Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine on July 1, 2007.
A guided koan meditation with John Tarrant to begin the Spring Sesshin. Koan: Peach Blossoms. 7 minutes as recorded April 7, 2021.
On friendship—two old friends on Tortoise Mountain are snowed in. One wakes up and so does the Mountain. Audio excerpt as recorded January 31 2021, PZI Zen Online. 7 minutes.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt from Guanyin in the Pavilion Under the August Moon, Michelle Riddle’s Talk, “Earth.” Compassion is receptive earth. It does not have one face, nor is it driving or pitying. It erupts within us. It allows barriers to fall, and in that way it is the ground on which we stand, the heart and soul of awakening. As recorded August 9 2020.
Summer Sesshin: Into the Cave of the Blue Dragon – audio excerpt from the Saturday morning session with Allison Atwill Roshi. As recorded June 27th, 2020.
Audio: PZI Zen online Allison sits with Awakening. What is it? Awakening experience is outside of our control or will. It comes in a from a direction we don’t know about – a direction we have darkened. The sufficiency of the moment. Hakuin Ikkaku as a teacher and seeing into your essential nature. As recorded May 5, 2020.
In the evening dharma talk John introduces us to an ancestor in the koan tradition, Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲 (Ta-hui Tsung-kao, Daie Soko), 1089-1163 and his disciple Wuzhuo Miaozong (無著妙宗; 1096–1170 CE), Miaozong lived during the Song dynasty and was one of the first nuns to be included in an imperially sanctioned Zen lineage history. The conversation between Dahui and Miaozong is instructive of his early method of using only the ‘head of the koan’ and becoming one with it. His method was formulated for his culture.